Chevron Products Company
El Segundo, CA, U.S.

Chevron El Segundo Coke Drum Reliability

Fluor conducted initial studies and performed front-end design work for Chevron Products Company to plan for replacement of six coke drums at Chevron's El Segundo Refinery in California. Fluor subsequently performed engineering, procurement, and construction management on the project. The development incorporated seismic upgrades to the coke structure at the El Segundo Refinery. The vertical project required extensive scaffolding and 15 major lifts ranging from 166 tons to 500-plus tons, and took place at heights of more than 250 feet. The venture was completed four months ahead of schedule, $7 million under budget, with no serious injuries or disruption to plant operations.

The new coke drums, which are three times as heavy as the Space Shuttle Endeavor, were installed. A 1-million-pound, six-derrick structure and cutting deck that covered the coke drums were also removed. The removal took place in one lift, with a 400-foot-tall crane; the largest ever brought to Southern California.

The Project Management Institute recognized the development with its prestigious 2015 Project of the Year Award as a result of Fluor's successful delivery of coke drum replacements for Chevron.


Client's Challenge

In order to help ensure the continued safe and reliable operation of the Chevron El Segundo Refinery, Chevron needed to replace the six massive coke drums that make up the core of the refinery's coker unit, which was originally constructed in 1968. After over 40 years of service, the drums were reaching the end of their useful life, leading to increasing maintenance and operational challenges.

The coke drums are a critical component of the Chevron Refinery, which supplies over 20 percent of the motor vehicle fuels used in Southern California and over 40 percent of the jet fuel at the Los Angeles International Airport. Chevron needed to replace the drums to increase reliability of the coke drum operations while taking advantage of more than 40 years of industry advances in coke drum design.

Fluor's Solution

Fluor was part of a diverse team of engineering, rigging, and construction experts engaged in the highly complex task of planning the safe removal and replacement of the El Segundo Refinery's six aging coke drums. Fluor incorporated detailed activities associated with upgrading the drums, such as selecting and installing nuclear level-detectors. The detectors are radiation-based continuous level measurement systems providing a complete picture of the level of coke as the drum fills while also detecting nuisance X-rays from external operations such as weld examinations.

Fluor's Construction Technology team provided input and feedback into all aspects of the project involving detailed lifting design and crane selection criteria. All lifting attachment designs and lift plans were reviewed for adherence to Fluor and Chevron rigging and lifting standards, as well as those of all other governing entities potentially involved.

The project used interactive planning sessions, safety commitment workshops, cutting-edge technology, and strict scaffolding safety guidelines to complete the undertaking with no serious incidents or lost-time injuries.


The new drums were 100 feet long by 28 feet wide and weighed about 500,000 pounds. They were maneuvered through the South Bay area two at a time, on three nights. Delivery safely met the schedule established with multiple municipalities involved. El Segundo Coke Drum Reliability was completed four months ahead of schedule.